People have ranked the fear of public speaking higher than the fear of dying. They would rather be in the coffin than giving the eulogy at a funeral. Standing and talking to an audience can be frightening, especially if it is for more than a couple of minutes. As a business owner, you may find yourself giving a sixty-second weekly presentation at a networking meeting, a ten-minute presentation at a chamber function, or a forty-minute educational presentation to a prospect. Take a deep breath, you can do it.
Five Tips to Conquer Your Fear of Public Speaking:
1) Prepare, prepare, prepare.
Do not wing it! Prepare an outline of what you want to say and practice it. Print out your remarks in a very large font. It will be easier to read with or without your glasses. Plus, this will help you to not lose your place in your presentation.
2) Be specific and talk about the things you know best.
Do not try to teach everything you do. Instead, focus on sharing with the audience something of significance. Focus on just one or two areas of your business, the topics you feel you understand the best. This will increase your comfort level and reduce stress.
3) Use visuals or PowerPoint slides to support your presentation.
If you are worried about stage fright, these can help you stay focused and add to your presentation. You will be less fearful when the audience is looking at something besides you. Avoid reading from your PowerPoint slides. Create slides with photos and graphics that tell your story without text. PowerPoint should support your presentation, not be your presentation.
4) Remember, you are the expert.
In the eyes of the audience, you are the expert and they want to hear what you have to say. They want to learn something from you. If you focus on what you know best, you will feel more confident and be more credible. Believe in yourself and in your message.
5) Be creative.
Find a way to communicate that makes you comfortable. Don’t be afraid to be different. Surprise your audience. Walk around the stage or up into the seats. People get tired of the same old approach and are invigorated by something unexpected. Have fun with your message; it will help you turn your nervous energy into positive energy. The audience will feel it and before you know it, your fear of public speaking is gone.
You should do a presentation that you feel comfortable with. Think creatively about what you know and what you feel comfortable doing to express that knowledge. You will become better and better at public speaking. You will discover that opportunities will develop to speak publically in larger audiences over time. Take a breath. It is good to be a little nervous. Just convert that into positive energy, and you will have the audience in the palm of your hand.